It has taken a few extra months, but Champions #1 is finally in stores this week and it’s an exciting return. Eve L. Ewing and Simeon Di Meo are teaming up to kick off the “Outlawed” story arc, as seen in a few series like Miles Morales. As a #1 issue, this aims to reset the Champions team while also setting in motion a different kind of mission for the heroes. In a world where it’s against the law to be a hero if you’re under 21, a lot of our favorite heroes are criminals. Ms. Marvel has something to say about that.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Champions team, the characters in it, or even teen heroes in general, I implore you to give this first issue a shot. The art is electric, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise if you’ve read Di Meo’s We Only Find Them When They’re Dead. Colored by Federico Blee, the art is filled with life and emotion, is expertly told from panel to panel, and is quite good at zooming in on close-ups and moving out to show what’s going on in any given room. There’s a zip here that feels youthful and energetic, which suits the characters on the page. There’s plenty of deadly serious moments too, and Di Meo captures the deep and eclectic mix of emotions very well. There is a lot riding on the actions of these heroes, especially Ms. Marvel, and you’ll be on the edge of your seat every step of the way. That even includes scenes where there isn’t a direct threat, which is important since the weight of the world is on these teenagers’ shoulders.
Which leads me to the story, which is good, but made better thanks to Ewing’s incredibly well-crafted speeches. Ms. Marvel gives an important one early on in the book, told via a full-page splash of her on a TV screen as the world watches. You can read it for yourself below; it hits at the core of what this team is about, and it’s made more heroic given the fact that adults are telling the Champions to stand down.
A few different characters make clearly stated points that are all legit, but given the circumstances, everything is up in the air. That’s an element in this book that makes it stand apart from your usual superhero comic. The heroes are effectively the bad guys, or at the very least there’s a shade of gray at work where the “good guys” are also the bad guys. That goes for both those who are seeking to stop the Champions and the Champions themselves. Similar to Marvel’s iconic Civil War event, the idea of vigilantism is put into question, which gives the book a moral spin. This extends to each character and their position on things.
This is a fresh start for the Champions with a story that’s socio-relevant. It sets the stage for a lot of disarray, ends on a killer cliffhanger, and puts your favorite under-21 superheroes in a position where you can see who they really are. All of that, and it’s one of the freshest looking superhero books on the shelf this week. Champions is a confident and tantalizingly fresh take on the team and its characters.